Today, September 13, the first Mario game was released in Japan, meaning he is now 25 years old. Happy birthday, little guy.
It seems almost pointless marking the occasion with a round-up, or a few paragraphs outlining his importance to video games - and video gamers - because it's Mario. He isn't important to video games. He is video games.
Whether appearing in his own flagship games or in spin-off titles where he plays basketball or becomes a paper aeroplane, Nintendo's mascot has been the most recognisable (and profitable) face this industry has ever - and will likely ever - see, almost single-handedly driving Nintendo through five whole generations of video game success.
He is the most recognisable face in gaming. His games are some of the highest-selling, and most critically-acclaimed of all time. And while other companies and characters either disappear into the history books or undergo awkward changes as they cling to relevance, Mario remains almost exactly the same. Still wearing redoveralls, still with that goofy moustache, still risking life and limb to rescue the same, careless Princess.
So here's to you, Mario. Others will pay their dues over the course of the day, I'm sure, so let me just say...happy birthday. And may your next 25 years be as successful and enjoyable for us all as your first.